Public vs. Private Enforcement of Antitrust Law: A Survey
Ilya R. Segal
Michael D. Whinston
Northwestern University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
December 15, 2006
Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 335
There are two basic approaches to deterring socially harmful behavior: with the threat of litigation by private parties or with enforcement by public agencies. Both approaches are used in most countries, but in varying degrees. Private litigation is common in the United States and (to a lesser extent) the United Kingdom and other common law jurisdictions. In contrast, the civil law countries, such as those of continental Europe, have far less private litigation, and rely more on enforcement by public agencies. The difference between the two systems is notable in many areas of law, but it is particularly prominent in the enforcement of antitrust law.
The present paper surveys the general economic issues regarding public vs. private enforcement and the (relatively scarce) economic literature that pertains to it. The analysis is pertinent to the 2005 proposal by the European Commission to facilitate private antitrust litigation in the EU by changing the procedural rules and some substantive law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: antitrust, enforcement, litigation, deterrence
JEL Classification: K21, K41, K42
Date posted: December 17, 2006